The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector “ (Luke 18:11 NIV).
Friend to Friend
In many ways, it is far easier to rely on works than it is to rely, by faith, on grace.
I’m coming to terms with this because I have had a works-based mentality, without even realizing it. I have used my works to benefit me when it is supposed to be all about God’s grace and glory.
For example, I’ve worked extra hard at church, really hoping to get compliments. I went above and beyond, not one hundred percent for God but, underneath, to merit my own significance, because I did such a great job! I have given compliments or encouragement to others, internally hoping that they would give the same thing back to me.
But, were these things for God, or were they for Kelly Balarie? Were they for the glory of God, my King or were they for my own glory, and so I felt good about myself? Valuable? Wanted? Significant?
It is far easier to rely on works, than grace by faith, because I can control works. I get things from works. I can use works to buoy my own sense-of-self or my sense of religiousness.
Yet, one of the dangerous consequences of this works-based mindset can be judging others.
Because we think we are head and shoulders above others, someone else’s faith looks measly compared to ours. Their work unto the Lord looks small. Their level of biblical knowledge pales in comparison to our head knowledge. Even the pastor’s approach to preaching can be all wrong. Rather than being a humble servant unto the Lord, our mind convinces us we are the grand master.
A Pharisee mindset can grow within us.
“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector’” (Luke 18:11 NIV).
May I encourage all of us sisters? We can recover! We can rebound! We have the power to take our thoughts captive so Pharisaical thinking can’t rule us any longer.
One simple solution, amongst many other ways we can take our thoughts captive, is to start with two simple words: Thank you.
We begin by thanking God for the things we would normally critique. It sounds like this: Thank you, God, that I get to serve You today in church! Thank You, God, that my husband is not perfect (just as I am not perfect), but he is trying. Thank You, God, that my friends are growing in faith, as am I. Thank You, God, that I am Your daughter, servant, and friend of Jesus.
The more we thank God for what we do have, the less discontent we are about what we don’t have. The more we practice thankfulness, the more we understand where every good and perfect gift comes from – Him, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. We not only think in the right way, but we see life – and the abundance of His grace — through the right eyes.
What or who can you give thanks for today? How might that help you rely on God’s grace?
Father, I want to honor You in all I do. I don’t want to live my life proving, striving, or working to feel good about myself. Help me to get over self-centered thinking or a self-centered existence. The story is all about You and not about me. The glory belongs all to You and not to me. I receive the empowerment of Your grace to help me.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
In what ways are you doing good things to build up your own self-ego? How are you wanting God to reward you? Has bitterness or a crushed spirit crept in? What would it look like for you to rely on God’s grace?
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